From the nursery

Damping-off: The time for damping-off of seedling material is now upon us. We have a range of products suitable for seedling bedding including Aliette 80WG, Basilex, Cuprokylt FL, Filex, Proplant and Subdue.

Mice: Damage from mice can be evident through the cold months on protected crops. They tend to be messy eaters, leaving slithers of uneaten stem at the base of the damaged area. Where mice are present, I have noticed that there seems to be less damage on crops where Ronstar 2G granules are applied. There may be an interesting correlation here.

Salt damage: Protect conifers alongside the road from salt damage by spraying them with an anti-transpirant. This will prevent the brown patches on hedges that are often associated with this problem.

Botrytis: This disease can still cause damage to crops at this time of year. Consider spraying tunnel and glasshouse crops with Amistar (SOLA 2009-0443), Rovral WG, Scotts Octave, Scala (protected SOLA required) or Serenade ASO (SOLA 2009-0246). When spraying, make sure that the spray is directed to the base of the plant and includes a wetting agent. Keep tunnel and glasshouse doors open where possible - trials have shown that an imbalance of gases can build up under the relatively sealed environment of a tunnel, producing a weak crop.

Drought: This can be a real problem to evergreen outdoor and unheated crops. Frozen compost makes soil water unavailable to conifers and shrub liners. On sunny days when the foliage transpires, avoid foliage scorch or even death of the crop by spraying with an anti-transpirant such as WiltPruf S600 to conserve moisture.

Rust: This disease is a problem on some cold and heated crops. Check Mahonia 'Apollo' and Bellis and spray Nimrod or Systhane 20EW if rust can be seen. Do not spray if a frost is predicted that night, otherwise foliage damage can occur.

Spraying: Remember to make sure that the leaves have dried off soon after spraying over protected crops this month and avoid spraying frozen plants. Look at the range of fogging machines available - they will reduce water applications to pots, which is useful at this time of year.

Liverwort: Use this time of year to clean up liverwort with an application of Mogeton. We continue to see far less liverwort growth in pots containing a percentage of PAS 100 green compost.

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